Understanding How to Be Led By the Spirit of God! The Spirit of God Bears Witness with Our Spirit! Part 7
(ver 1.1) This is now Part 7 in a series of very important basic Christian Bible lessons on the subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. We have covered a lot of information and topics that will not be repeated so if you have not read this from the beginning I would suggest that you go and start with “Part 1” first. In this series I have been attempting to teach that God still speaks in the modern world to His children the same as He did in recorded Bible days. Since the Bible teaches us that God does not change nor does He show any favoritism, what He did for others is what He will do for those that wish to participate with Him today. This will probably not be the last lesson in this series because of the amount of information that is still needed to cover it. After I looked into what remained, I think I have decided that there is just too much that you need to know to cover everything in one lesson today. This is a complex subject and it is getting more complicated as I have transitioned into the spiritual dominated parts of the subject. I tried to start teaching with the easier subjects first that were sense realm manifestations of the Spirit of God like prophets, angels, the audible voice of God, creation, signs and wonders, etc. and I have moved into the purer spiritual realm methods like the still small voice and today’s subject of the inward witness. God is a Spirit and in order to be led by Him you are going to have to learn how He operates as a Spirit. People generally do not know what they do not know and therefore they fail to realize what they are missing out on. God says “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Therefore, people do not even realize that God desires to speak and to direct them in their present circumstances. The ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God is for you to hear something that you did not know that will help you to avoid a potential negative outcome that you were heading into. This is what God did for the people in the Bible consistently. Here again is the list of 12 methods that God has recorded in the Bible to lead His people. This is probably not a complete list but it has most of the ones that I feel are important for every Christian to understand.
- The Audible Voice of God
- The Finger of God
- Angels Sent by God
- Prophets, Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Apostles or other Men/Women (disciples) of God
- The inward Still Small Voice of God
- The Written Word of God
- External Visible Signs from God
- Visions from God
- Dreams from God
- Prayer of an Individual
- The Inward Witness of the Spirit of God / Moral Conscience / Intuition / Internal Knowledge / Spiritual Insight
- Patterns found within God’s Creation
From this list I have introduced you to every one of God’s methods that I have found in the Bible except for number 11. This method number 11 is actually a composite of several related methods that I placed all together and I probably should not have done that. These spiritual methods of God leading His people are probably the most prevalent ways that God uses on a daily basis and it is going to be very challenging to try to explain to you since they are mostly pure Spiritual encounters with God. To discuss spiritual things using only natural words, terms and descriptions is where the challenge truly comes in for me today. Jesus would very often teach about spiritual things using natural parables, symbols and types that people understood more clearly. Teaching on spiritual leadings is very much like trying to describe the emotion of love to someone who has never experienced this feeling. Since love is usually experienced in different ways to each individual, how do you describe this feeling of emotion so that everyone will see it the same way? It is really almost impossible to do this. In every other communication method of God that I have discussed, there was always a basic sense realm manifestation either involving your vision or your hearing. But with a pure spiritual inward leading it is certainly not this way.
There is a major difference to the way the Spirit of God was able to direct His people after Jesus was raised from the dead to the time before when no one was born again of the Spirit of God. When Jesus was raised from the dead He appeared to His disciples and He breathed on each of them and told them to “Receive the Holy Ghost” (Jo 20:22). This was something that had never happened in all of human history. It was a radical departure from the way things were done in the Old Covenant to the new way for God to be intimately involved in the day to day life of every believer in the New Covenant. For the first time, the Spirit of God lived not in structures made by the hands of men and in the Ark of the Covenant apart from the people, but now He was much closer than you could imagine living inside of every person’s spirit. This is why the new Spiritual methods of being led are so much more important for us to know. The old physical/natural methods are still valid, but God can use new spiritual methods that were never available before to a much greater advantage to everyone. Let me introduce you to my subject today:
The Spirit of God Bears Witness with our Spirit!
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
I am going to talk about a new internal spiritual guidance method using several new descriptive terms. These are new methods of God that He did not use in the Old Testament. Here in Romans 8:16 is the portrayal of one of the new works of the Holy Spirit and it is very different than anything we have seen before. The term “bears witness” is a unique phrase that is easily misunderstood. If you have a witness in a court setting that is testifying, that is the independent isolated words and work of a single individual speaking about what they know or have seen. In this setting, there is only one person on the witness stand at that time and that is not what this Greek word means. Therefore we are going to have to shift our focus and perspective to see what God is speaking of in this verse. This Greek word means “Joint” testimony and in the context God’s participation is dependent upon your concurrent participation and agreement. If you do not agree with God, He will not agree with you. Always remember who changes and who stays the same and never changes in the God man relationship. People changing to be in agreement together with God will cause you to have power available. There is an implied dependence that God will confirm (bear witness) what you believe and speak. There is another verse in Romans 8:16 that says “The Spirit of God will bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God”, but first you had to do something to become a child of God and then God does His part and bears witness inside of you. This does not mean you will necessarily hear God speak words of confirmation. It is much like you do not have to hear your wife say she agrees with you because you can look at her and know what she thinks by her facial expressions, smiles or nods. Words are not the only way the Spirit of God communicates with men and women on the earth in the spiritual dimension. I’ll try to talk more about this as we continue through this lesson, but for now I want to shift to a very specific type of internal spiritual leading that is labeled the human conscience.
God’s Guidance through the Human Conscience
I am actually going to focus on this single part of the inward witness of the Holy Ghost called the human conscience in the rest of this lesson. Every aspect of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit will be a method that is beyond the realm of the 5 physical senses. The human conscience will always be a method that can be very easily ignored in the sense dominated realm especially for newborn or carnal Christians. I also want to say that the Human Conscience is a valid tool to be led by the Holy Spirit if you are a true Christian. For others that are not Christians the Human Conscience is not a reliable guide for anything. What is a conscience? Does everyone have a conscience? Where is the conscience? How does God use the conscience to help guide people on the earth? These are the basic questions that I will attempt to introduce you to. I’ll start by saying that I could not find any reference in the Old Testament to the word “conscience”. It appears that “conscience” is never directly mentioned by God in the Old Testament anywhere. That does not necessarily mean that it was something that did not exist in the O.T., but rather I believe it was something that God places no emphasis on since how do you explain spiritual things to natural people? It is very much like Satan is rarely mentioned in the O.T. either, but in the New Testament we have been given authority over him so we now have tools at our disposal to exercise and demonstrate his defeat. The word “conscience” appears in the KJV of the Bible in only 29 verses in the N.T., but I will not be talking about them all today. Let me begin by giving you one of my foundational scriptures in this lesson on conscience:
Rom 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
You see Paul describes something in this verse that is really beyond natural description. There is no reference to hearing a voice from God; there are no references to any physical feelings from God and there are not any external sense realm references at all given in this verse. One key word that is directly mentioned is Paul’s “conscience” that is qualified with the usage of the personal possessive pronoun “my”. That is where I will try to begin today’s lesson. Wow, here I go with trying to explain a spiritual concept that many people ignore on a daily basis. The human conscience can be defined as an inner spiritual sense of knowing right from wrong that is attempting to guide us to do what is right. Having a conscience is not based upon any new spoken words from God, but rather I believe a good conscience is always based upon your past knowledge of the Word of God. The lack of the knowledge of God’s word is the root cause of everyone’s problem in the world today. Because of the lack of teaching of God’s word in schools, children are growing up without a moral conscience foundation. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes and they do this in ignorance mostly. So I believe the human conscience is based upon your Word knowledge of the truth. If you know no truth you have no basis for having a conscience. The Human Conscience is always an internal reality that is expressed in the external realm by your freewill actions and this originates from the heart of men and women in the world depending upon the deposit of the good treasure of the Word of God that has been heard by the individual. Paul claims that this conscience was a part of him and that he possessed it. There is another factor given to us in the Bible that is related to conscience and this is the complex association of sin and the law that are both interrelated subjects, but I will not have time to teach on these subjects in this lesson fully.
It is like the Bible says, without God’s law man would have not known what sin was (Rom 3:20). Therefore the knowledge of the law of God brought men correction to teach them the difference between good versus evil. But there is more to it than that based upon the story of Saul in the Bible. Think about the story of Saul in the Bible who became Paul that has written many of these verses that I am talking about today. Saul knew the Law of God better than most men in his day and he thought that he was doing good works for God by persecuting the church. While he was Saul he caught Christians accusing them, imprisoning them, beating them and even killing them. Where was Saul’s conscience during these times? Wow, that is a really good question. Obviously it takes more than the knowledge of God’s word to guide someone to do the right things. This is an example of a man who was zealous for God but knew Him not. Paul later tells us that what he did to Christians in the past he did in ignorance. Therefore the ignorance of Saul (lack of understanding) is directly related to Saul not having any conscience to be led by God to help the church. Do you understand the destructive power of the ignorance of God’s truth? It is very profound when you see it. Let me give you a direct verse about the danger of ignorance:
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
If you do not know God’s righteousness this verse says you will attempt to establish your own definition of righteousness. This is just saying people will by nature live by their own law and ignore God’s ways. This is usually based upon sense realm leadings of what feels good to me, what I like, what I want to do, what looks good to me and on and on. It is a ME, MYSELF and I existence with a complete disregard for all others. These types of people have little to no conscience and will not generally care what they do to others. I’ll try to talk more about this soon.
I’m now going to talk about a story of conscience found in the Gospels where a group of religious men bring a woman caught in the act of adultery and ask Jesus what should we do with her? They were quoting that the Law says to stone her, but then they ask Jesus “what do you say”? These men obviously knew the law of God, but understood it not at all. These men were just looking for ways to accuse Jesus of violating God’s law, but Jesus used great wisdom in His answer to them and He said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Jesus then stoops down on the ground and begins to write in the dirt ignoring everyone around Him. While I do not believe the Bible says what He was writing, I personally envision it to be the places, dates and times of every man’s sin that was present. Here is what the Bible says next in this story:
Joh 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
There are two key words in this verse that have direct application to my main subject. Of course one is “conscience” that we have already looked at briefly. The Greek word translated as “conscience” is again “H4893” and it means morals. Next the word before that is one that relates to having morals and that is “conviction” or “convicted”. What does it mean to be convicted? To be convicted in law/legal terms means to be found guilty. Is that what we are talking about? I believe it is. When someone is found guilty of an offense they can have at the least two different contrasting reactions. One is called sorrow and the other one is called pride. Having no remorse for being found guilty is like having no conscience and it is a major problem that I will try to talk about more in a minute.
Notice what happens in this verse. The men who were ready to stone the woman without any regard to their conscience suddenly start disappearing from the oldest to the youngest appearing to get a conscience. This helps me to envision what Jesus was writing on the ground that caused the men to suddenly walk away one after the other. What was happening during this time? What was the internal process that was taking place to cause them to have a change of heart and to walk away? I obviously believe it was their memory being jogged from whatever Jesus was writing on the ground. There were no spoken words from Jesus so Jesus is giving us all a lesson on the human conscience without preaching to anyone. Therefore, human memory must be involved in having a conscience. Memories are always based upon past experiences or the recollection of words that we have lived through. These are mental pictures of the things we have been taught from the lessons in our past. Jesus could have been writing on the ground about when each man had committed the same offense with this woman or with someone else and this caused them to see that they might be stoned next. How did God in the flesh use their conscience to help guide them? If you can begin to see the application found in this story to what you do every day then you will begin to understand that your conscience is still your potential guide into doing positive, good and right things. After all of the men walked away Jesus looks at the woman and asks her “Woman where are your accusers”? Then Jesus says “neither do I accuse you go your way and sin no more”. Do you think that this woman learned a lesson also that day and how did her conscience going forward change? I’ll guess she never did what she was accused of doing again.
This was a very powerful lesson on how people can change to do right when they desired to do something very wrong. There are lots of lessons that we can learn from this story. Every man had a choice to make. Therefore conscience is the exercised choices of the freewill of mankind. Every man could have ignored the actions of Jesus and still stoned the woman based upon their knowledge of the law. Therefore any man can ignore his conscience and still do the wrong thing. The law never changed in this story, it remained constant. It was only the viewed perspective of the men that changed. What I believe happened is that the men suddenly understood that one sin does not justify another sin so they walked away. Did God use their conscience to help guide them? I believe that He did. Could the men have chosen to ignore their conscience? I believe they could. A good conscience prevailed in this situation and they made the right choice, but this is not the case in every situation in the Bible, is it? Let me show you another story in the Gospels with a slightly different result:
Mar 14:30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Let’s briefly talk about this story in the Gospels about Peter one of the key disciples of Jesus. Right before the crucifixion of Christ, Jesus looks at Peter and tells him “before the cock crows two times you shall deny me three times”. The prophet Jesus is telling Peter what will happen before it happens. Does this mean Jesus caused it to happen? Foreknowledge is never forced behavior. Peter always has a freewill choice, but the situation becomes more than he can handle and the prophecy is fulfilled just as Jesus predicted. Remember what is happening here. An armed group of men comes and takes Peter’s teacher by force and arrests him. Jesus is placed on trial immediately, beaten tortured and them condemned to death. Peter is observing what is taking place and is of course very concerned with these developments because they could do the same to him. So when a young servant comes to him and asks him if he is one of them, Peter forgets what Jesus has warned will happen and goes in self-preservation mode and begins to deny Jesus. The cock crows and Peter is still scared. Some more people come to him and tell him you were one of them and again Peter denies it. Finally here is how this chapter ends:
Mar 14:71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Here we again see a connection and an indirect reference to the conscience of Peter. Peter obviously was not thinking clearly before this or he would have remembered sooner the words of Jesus. Notice the connection to the soul realm and the mind in this scripture. Peter suddenly “remembered” the words of Jesus. Does this mean if he would have remembered sooner that he might have also remembered telling Jesus I will die with you? The pressures of this world can be very overwhelming at times and there are circumstances when it is difficult to be led by the Spirit of God regardless of your intent or desires. What is noteworthy is that even after Peter did wrong by denying Jesus, his response indicates that he still had a good conscience that led him to be sorrowful and repentant. If he had no conscience at this time, then he would have just walked away and we would have never read of Peter again in the Bible. Avoiding making the bad choices in life is the ultimate goal of being led by the Spirit of God, but if you do make a wrong choice then you are not lost unless you ignore your conscience and you continue to go down the paths of destruction without sorrow for what you have done. Let me show you some other scriptures that will help clarify what I just said:
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Here is God speaking of former Christians. These were some of the faithful that were no longer believers because of Satan’s deceptions and their bad choices. They have fallen away from the truth and bought into the lie of Satan. Notice what verse two says; because this was the important part that I needed to get you to understand. This verse states these lost people still had a conscience, but that it had been hardened by a process that is referred to in the terms of searing meant like branding a cow. To sear meat or the flesh occurs only with the application of metal raised to a temperature of intense heat. What did God say that He would do for Christians? God said I will take out your stony heart (unfeeling and insensitive spirit) and I will put within you a heart of flesh (that has sensitive feelings). Do these verses mean that these people are once saved and always saved? According to God their heart of flesh can become insensitive to the Spirit of God and even become hard again. Therefore, God says those who are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God. If your heart is no longer sensitive to His leading I do not believe you can still be saved or be called a child of God. Being led by the Spirit of God always requires the individual’s sensitivity and desire to be led by the Spirit of God.
I have given you two examples of conscience found in the Gospels. Once God used the human conscience to change the people’s intended actions to do something good and positive instead of the evil that they desired originally and another time God used a man’s conscience to help him repent and become one of the foundations of the church. Both are positive outcomes from the direction of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Both times every man involved could have overridden their conscience and done more wrong things. The subject of conscience is very deep and I’m not convinced that I know it all either. But, I’m still learning and growing and God will cause me to increase in knowledge and understanding just like you.
Conscience is God’s internal moral guidance to help you to do right and good things and this results in positive things coming your way. You see God says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23). Listening to your conscience will help you avoid the wages of death and will help you to receive the reverse wages of life from Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10? Jesus said “The thief has come to kill, steal and to destroy, but I have come that you might have life and that life more abundantly”. God intends you to have abundant life in this natural dimension right now and the only way you are going to get there is to be led by the Spirit of God. If you spend time in prayer and in the Word of God you have a conscience that you can depend on. Jesus also said “I give unto a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13:34). Therefore, being led by the Spirit of God and your conscience can be reduced to the simplicity of you doing only what is love based towards your neighbor. It is very similar to the golden rule of you doing to others what you desire them to do to you.
There is still a lot more to talk about on this subject of Being Led by the Spirit of God. I hope and pray that you are still learning and enjoying these lessons and that you will continue to study the Bible with me. I also would love to hear your experiences of being led by the Spirit of God. However God has done it or what method that He used to cause you to have good success in this life, it would be awesome to hear about it. Share it with me and it might be a tremendous blessing to someone that needs to hear it to give them confidence that they also have heard from God the same way. If you have any questions or comment on these lessons, you are free to give those to me also. Until next time God bless and continue to study and grow in His truth and learn to listen to your conscience.
If you would like to continue reading and learning in this series you can continue with “Part 8“.
Posted on September 29, 2011, in Bible Basics, Bible Study, Understanding and tagged Being Led, Bible, Christianity, Church, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Religion. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.